Pep Guardiola explains dropping De Bruyne as Man City face Real Madrid without talisman

Pep Guardiola explained why Kevin De Bruyne was named on Manchester City’s bench. (Image: TNT Sports.)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has explained why he decided to omit Kevin De Bruyne from his starting lineup to face Real Madrid. The Belgian playmaker tormented Los Blancos in the Champions League last season, but Guardiola has tinkered in a big game once again and left out his star man.

De Bruyne is firmly in form after scoring two stunning goals in the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, but Guardiola has seemingly decided to use Phil Foden behind Erling Haaland instead.

Jack Grealish retains his spot in the team on the left, with Bernardo Silva on the opposite flank, as Mateo Kovacic has been brought back into the fold to join Rodri in midfield.

But De Bruyne misses out as a result, with Guardiola explaining that he starts from the bench after picking up an illness this week. “Vomits,” Guardiola explained to TNT Sports. “He feels unwell. I don’t know (if he can play at all). We had a meeting and he was ready but when we arrive here at the locker room he started to vomit, vomit, he feels unwell.

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Kevin De Bruyne is on the bench for Manchester City vs Real Madrid. (Image: Getty)

“He said: ‘I am not ready’. It is what it is. Other players are going to play and they are ready for 180 minutes or 90 minutes to play. Everyone is going to help.”

De Bruyne was not spotted warming up with the other substitutes, raising concerns over how many minutes he could play off the bench. But Guardiola has been bolstered by Josko Gvardiol being fit to start. The Croatian was withdrawn at half-time of City’s win at Palace on Saturday, prompting fears that he would not make the trip to the Bernabeu. With Nathan Ake and Kyle Walker absent, the Swiss star’s presence at full-back will be vital.

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Gvardiol starting ensures that Manuel Akanji can operate on the right and mark Madrid talisman Vinicius Jr, with Kovacic and Rodri hoping to nullify Jude Bellingham through the middle.

Man City XI: Ortega, Akanji, Stones, Dias, Gvardiol, Rodri, Kovacic, Bernardo, Foden, Grealish, Haaland.

Subs: Ederson, Carson, Doku, De Bruyne, Alvarez, Gomez, Nunes, Bobb, Susoho, Lewis.

Real Madrid XI: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Tchouameni, Mendy, Kroos, Valverde, Camavinga, Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo.

Subs: Kepa, Fran, Militao, Nacho, Modric, Joselu, Vazquez, Ceballos, Fran Garcia, Diaz, Guler.